As many of you know, the Longshore clan has gone on quite a journey over the last year and some change. We trekked our way from the Southeast to the Northwest with nine souls in the van. With gratitude, we left off the work of Founders Ministries down in Florida, which was growing at rocket speed, to land in Moscow, Idaho at Christ Church. Founders, by the way, has their national conference coming up later this month which will no doubt be fantastic so you should take a look here.
Our trip from one corner of our nation to the other came at a tumultuous time. God was and is shaking things in our nation. God was and is shaking things in his church. It is one thing for God to move some of the furniture around in your own life and family. It is another for him to do so among his covenant people. And it is yet another for him to do so in a nation. But when he does all three at the same time, there’s nothing to say but, Wooha.
One of the things I have aimed for in ministry is to be a son of Issachar who knows the times and what Israel ought to do. Now, you might say I am a young son of Issachar, or a son of Issachar who often doesn’t know quite what the temperature is. But I’ve at least got my eye on the weather. And it is fair to say that our cross-country move, with all of the aforementioned divine remodeling involved, has provided some confirmation about our times. If God shakes the things that can be shaken so that the things that cannot be shaken remain, you could say that I have some confidence at least in the big picture concerning our civil and ecclesiastical moment. That big picture has not been shaken. It has become much more clear.
That big picture is that the church in America truly must go through renewal and reformation. But that sentence needs a good deal of explaining. If we would see health, blessing, and growth, the church must operate in a significantly different way than she has before, while at the same time pressing on with all of the many good things she has been doing. The change must come along the lines of civil and cultural engagement. But that change requires changes below the surface on doctrinal issues concerning the nature and purpose of the church, the world, the Lordship of Christ, and much more.
Moreover, this civil and cultural engagement change is coming whether we like it or not, and we will change on the matter for the better or the worse. The present situation is simply not sustainable.
Most of the reformed and evangelical in the states know that we’re on our way to developing a civil theology of some sort. They see this is inevitable. But many think that developing this civil theology is like getting a new haircut. When in reality it is more like getting a new liver. All of the tumult we have been experiencing is a sign that something must change down among those critical organs found around the core of our person.
The church in the states must go through one of the doctrinal “aha” moments, when you discover something that has been right there on the surface of the text the whole time you’ve been reading the Bible. That kind of “aha” moment leaves you thinking everything has changed and at the same time, none of the fundamentals have changed, like when you discover God is sovereign, and ask, “What in the world do I do now?” Well, you go on praying as you did before and yet your newly invigorated praying is such that you wonder if you’ve every prayed before. You have of course, but isn’t life on the other side of this “aha” moment awesome? We all need to ask God to do something like that for his church in the states in the year of our Lord 2023.
If God answers our request, you will hear much more from Christians about seeking a Christian town. And you will see them making the changes necessary to make their town a Christian one. Now I imagine there are several of you out there who choke a bit on this idea. I could have said something like, “If God answers our request, it will look like Christians grasping the Lordship of Christ,” and everyone would say amen. Or I could have said, “it will look like Christians not being woke,” and all the conservative Christians would say amen. But there is a good bit baked into that “Christian town” terminology, and that is why I chose to use it. That term possesses some key ingredients that the reformed and evangelical saints in our land must come to store in their pantry and employ in their kitchen.
We may not need to adopt it as our life verse. But we should at least make our 2023 verse Revelation 11:15, which is to say that we need to sing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and mean it: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” Notice the language. The kingdoms of this world are become. The ESV says that they have become. The original Greek (ginomai) is in the aorist tense, which is a simple past tense; not future. We’re not talking about a future date when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. We’re talking about waking up to the reality that the kingdoms of this world have already become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
That means nothing is off limits. We’re talking fundamental, ground-level restructuring of worship, education, home economics, civil-engineering, business, civics and the like. There is a rich and potent way to go about Christian living in this world that smells of the kingdom of heaven. And there is an anemic way to go about it that amounts to posting your Christianity on secularism like one of those Christmas cards on your refrigerator. We must renounce the latter way and pursue a Christendom that includes customs, rhythms, practices that are indeed Christian.
We need a collective doctrinal discovery. And we are on the clock. Things are deteriorating. And if you are not building in summer, how will you build in winter? “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry” (Luke 23:31)?
If this post encourages you to look for next steps, I’d point you to Pastor Doug Wilson’s book Gashmu Saith It as well as the recent documentary from Canon called How to Save the World in Eleven Simple (But Not Easy) Steps.